Another fatal crane collapse

Behind The News
May 30, 2008 12:44:36 PM PDT
Enough is enough. It's time to call a time out. Put a halt to construction work involving cranes until the companies that seem to be largely responsible - -or irresponsible, judging from their track records -- for policing themselves get their acts together. It's going to be expensive and there will be people facing financial hardships, but this second deadly crane collapse in less than three months should mean that business cannot go on as usual.

There are about 250 cranes on any given day operating in New York City. And as we understand it, there are fewer than a dozen crane inspectors. Clearly, despite the rhetoric of a seemingly angry Mayor Bloomberg today ("this is unacceptable"), the City doesn't seem to mean business.

And the giant companies that seem busier than ever with high-rise construction projects going up like topsy seem not too concerned about guaranteeing that these accidents stop happening. They also don't seem too concerned about the City's oversight ability.

It's always a leap of faith to walk down a City street, under scaffolding sheds or under cranes. Hey, it's a leap of faith to walk across the street. But we New Yorkers do, all the time; and if we stopped to contemplate the "what ifs" -- well, we just can't do that. No one can, without becoming moribund in their homes.

But a leap of faith shouldn't be a roll of the dice. And New York's shabby construction accident report card in the past year is nothing short of failing.

Since May, 2007, there have been no fewer than 11 deadly construction site accidents, including the two firefighters who died at the Deutsche Bank building fire.

Mayor Bloomberg likes to boast that New York is the safest big city when it comes to crime. Hard to imagine he makes that claim when it comes to construction safety.

When the giant crane collapsed today on East 91st Street and First Avenue, it sliced right through a high-rise building. The crane operator was killed, as was a construction worker. Another worker was critically hurt. Seven surrounding buildings were evacuated, as a precaution.

So what now? The Buildings Dept. has already had a shake up at the top, with the commissioner who was on the job during March's deadly collapse -- 7 people were killed then -- resigning not long after.

We'll have complete coverage tonight at 11 -- reaction, the latest on the people injured, and what happens to the hundreds of construction projects in the city?

Also at 11, Tappy Phillips has the bizarre story of a fuel oil company that pumped some oil into a home. Just one problem: There were no fuel tanks in this home. The company's customer was nearby; they went to the wrong house. The company assured the homeowners they'd clean up and repair the damage. They didn't. So they called Tappy and got 7 On Your Side.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.